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Still Lagging Behind

The female literacy rate is less than the male literacy rate in all the 29 states of India and that too with a huge difference.

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Education is the prerequisite for the development of any country. India presents a figure of mediocre literacy rate and when it comes to female literacy, the situation is even worse. We are still lagging behind in terms of education even after 70 years of our independence. The female literacy rate of India is 54.16 per cent and 65.46 per cent according to Census 2001 and 2011 respectively. Being the third largest economy according to Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), this seems to be a worrisome state for India.

The female literacy rate is less than the male literacy rate in all the 29 states of India and that too with a huge difference. Kerala, Mizoram, and Meghalaya are the only three states where the literacy rate disparity is less than five per cent. The female literacy rates of Kerala, Mizoram, and Meghalaya are 92.07, 89.27 and 72.89 per cent respectively. The male literacy rates are 96.11, 93.35 and 75.95 per cent in the same order. Kerala is the lone state in India where the female literacy rate is above 90 per cent. Bihar, Rajasthan, and Jharkhand are the states with the lowest female literacy rates. Bihar is at the bottom line with 51.50 per cent female literacy rate. 

The main reasons behind this backwardness are gender disparity at both the levels i.e. the family and the society, involvement of girl child in household chores, low enrolment of girls in schools because of the unwillingness of many of the parents to send their daughters to far-away places for education, low retention rate and high dropout rates from schools and colleges, etc. 

The union government of India is trying to improve this situation through various programs and schemes. Mahila Samakhya is a program of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) that aims to use education as a tool to improve the status of women. Another project, Udaan is initiated by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and guided by MHRD addressing the low enrolment of girl students in prestigious engineering institutions. There are other programs like Operation Blackboard, Non-Formal Education, District Primary Education Program, National Literacy Mission, Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, and Vocational Education which are focused on enhancing the level of education. But there is a need for more female-oriented programs that will target this share of the population specifically.  

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